irascible


anger has a way of tacking onto you
sticking itself into the skin
twisting around
down until it’s
enfleshed

another person’s
self-righteous
behavior

enflames the slow
itching reaction
scratching at
open anger
sores

how very strange the
degree to which
self-deception
and spite
can scar
skin

scraping open
no-self and
no self


Early 1970’s in Waxahachie, Texas

Keith Wayne Brown slept with his father every night of his childhood from age 2 to 11. His father held him down until he would fall asleep.

Daddy holds me so I do not hurt myself. My skin itches so much. I stay up half the night scratching myself into a bloody mess. Daddy holds my arms and sings to me to calm me down. Sometimes he cries because I do, when I can’t not scratch.

We have an air conditioner in the bedroom, the only one in the house, so I can sleep in the coldest air possible from mid-March to October. Sometimes daddy needs an extra blanket but I am always too hot.

Once, during a period when my parents were arguing even more than usual, I began scratching behind my legs. It felt so good, like I was in control of this if not them. Feeling my nails dig into my flesh… it tickles then it bleeds. 

After awhile, there was blood all over my hands and I was starting to hurt. When they heard me crying, they came to find me with the back of my legs big bloody sores from the top of my calves to the bottom of my thighs. My father and mother cried with me; momma was nearly hysterical. They took me to the hospital, and the doctor told them I needed antibiotics and benadryl. Something to calm me down. 

For the next month at school, folks started asking if I had developed some kind of arthritis cause I was walking without bending my legs, like Frankenstein. It took the sores two months to finally heal.

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